Saturday, December 03, 2016

Tonight's Movie: One of Our Aircraft is Missing (1942) - An Olive Films DVD Review

ONE OF OUR AIRCRAFT IS MISSING (1942) is a very fine patriotic WWII adventure film. It's newly available on DVD and Blu-ray from Olive Films.

ONE OF OUR AIRCRAFT IS MISSING is an early film from "The Archers," the team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. Powell and Pressburger wrote, directed, and produced the film; their later works would include I KNOW WHERE I'M GOING! (1945) and THE RED SHOES (1948), to name just two titles.

Other behind-the-scenes personnel on ONE OF OUR AIRCRAFT IS MISSING were equally impressive, with future director Ronald Neame serving as cinematographer and future director David Lean editing.

The movie begins in exciting fashion, with an empty RAF plane flying until it inevitably crashes. We then go back in time and learn that the plane had been hit during an attack over Germany. The crew of six are forced to bail out over Holland. Five of the men (Eric Portman, Hugh Williams, Godfrey Tearle, Bernard Miles and Hugh Burden) reunite once on the ground, but a sixth (Emrys Jones) is missing.

The men meet up with some Dutch children, and despite only one of the British men speaking the language in halting fashion, they are able to establish friendship. The children take the men to their village, where the English-speaking teacher (Pamela Brown) quizzes the crew to ascertain they're not Nazi spies. Once satisfied, the villagers start the flyers on a remarkable "underground railroad" leading the men through the Nazi-occupied country to the North Sea and home.

Some of the cast faces are familiar, including a very young Peter Ustinov, in one of his first roles as the village priest, and Googie Withers as a most resourceful underground leader. Beyond the best-known actors, every cast member, to the smallest role, memorably inhabits his or her part.

The movie is filled with great moments and set pieces, whether it's the Nazis entering the church service where the flyers have blended into the congregation, the villagers' clever means of protest when the crowd at a soccer (football) game is ordered to disperse, or a moment as simple as Frank (Williams) listening raptly to his actress wife when they catch a few minutes of a British radio broadcast.

ONE OF OUR AIRCRAFT IS MISSING was released during the heart of the war, in mid 1942. It smoothly blends a crackerjack adventure story with morale-boosting patriotism, and its 102 minutes fly by. Highly recommended.

ONE OF OUR AIRCRAFT IS MISSING was Oscar-nominated for Best Screenplay and Best Special Effects.

The Olive Films DVD is a fine print with excellent sound. I also checked out the subtitles for a while and am pleased to report that, with a few exceptions, the caption quality was greatly improved over the subtitles for Olive's APPOINTMENT WITH CRIME (1946) and THE PRIVATE AFFAIRS OF BEL AMI (1947).

Thanks to Olive Films for providing a review copy of this DVD.


Blogger Jerry E said...

Obviously made as a wartime morale-booster for a heavily-bombarded British moviegoing public but it is understated and adult. A very fine picture, as you say, Laura.

2:25 PM  

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